“NOW, WHEN I SPOT CERTAIN RECURRING DYNAMICS, I KNOW WHICH ADJUSTMENTS TO MAKE”
“Now, when I spot certain recurring patterns or dynamics, I can predict what is going to happen and which adjustments I need to make. Previously, I would have just dealt with things as they came up.” Thijs Evers, Engineering Manager at Bilfinger Tebodin, shares his experience. Thijs decided to do the TIAS EMBA, as he wanted to learn how to better substantiate his decisions and gain a deeper understanding of business operations. “The program has definitely given my career a boost.”
A TECHNICIAN IN A MANAGEMENT POSITION
Thijs: “Originally, I'm a technician with a Master's degree in Civil Engineering. In my role as Engineering Manager, I used to make decisions based on my gut feeling, as I didn't have any specific management or business administration training. This worked out well in most cases, but I lacked the theoretical underpinnings on which to base my decisions. As I was looking for a way to provide further substantiation to my decisions, both for my current role and my future career, I decided to do an EMBA. I was also personally interested in finding out how things actually work within a company. How financial and strategic decisions are made, for example. After reading an annual report, for instance, I had the basic knowledge to be able to tell that high profits were probably a good thing, but I wasn't able to actually analyze the findings and draw any meaningful conclusions. This was something I wanted to learn; I wanted to understand the playing field in which I operated.”
After having explored various EMBA programs, Thijs decided to go with TIAS. “The TIAS schedule, with one weekend a month dedicated entirely to lectures, suited my work very well. You can let your work know that you won't be there during those two days every month. I liked that. Plus Tilburg just felt right to me; I felt welcome there. Ultimately, the study program really met my objective of gaining more knowledge and further insight into how the business really works.”
UNDERSTANDING THE BUSINESS IN THE BROADEST SENSE
“The TIAS EMBA covers all aspects of business, from human behavior to economics, from corporate finance to leadership and strategy. It also focuses on the connection between the various topics. There was this lecture series on macro and micro economics, for example, in which we were discussing things such as trade agreements. At the time I thought: sounds great, but what does this have to do with my work? But once you get the full picture, you start seeing certain patterns and events in their context. It was awesome – somehow, I'd suddenly gained a much better understanding of what I was actually doing in my role.”
Name: Thijs Evers Position: Engineering Manager of Architectural, Structural & Building Services at Bilfinger Tebodin. In his role, Thijs manages 20-25 employees. He is responsible for the realization of constructions, buildings and building-related installations at industrial complexes. Study program: Executive MBA “I have a better understanding of things, I quickly see the bigger picture, I'm less affected by certain things.”
“After a TIAS weekend, I could easily spend two days talking about what I'd heard in the lectures.”
ROBUST ACADEMIC AND INTEGRATIVE PROGRAM
Thijs: “Every topic is discussed from different angles and supported by several scientific theories. This makes it a program with a robust academic approach that encourages critical thinking at the same time. You're no longer in a professional field where answers are either right or wrong. Whenever we were asked a question, the answer always started with “It depends”. You start to realize that, depending on the situation, there is more than one way to look at things. Then there are the periodical 'Connecting the dots' lectures that take place in between the various modules. These lectures compare and integrate the theoretical foundations of the various modules, which helps you put what you have learned into context.” Excellent, inspiring speakers with real-world experience “During the lectures, I felt I was listening to the very best speakers out there. The lecturers knew how to tell stories that truly captivated me. I must say that I do like to learn, so I'm always interested whenever a model is being explained. After a TIAS weekend, I could easily spend two days talking about what I'd heard in the lectures. Incredibly inspiring people. In addition, TIAS lecturers have both academic knowledge and a business background. This helps them connect the theory to the day-to-day realities of working life. Most modules end with a practical assignment that you carry out in your own organization. This allows you to put the knowledge you gained to use immediately.” Skilled, smart peers “You also learn a lot from your peers, with whom you work together on the assignments. I mostly view the world from a technician's perspective, whereas my fellow students – all highly skilled, smart people from different professional backgrounds, such as healthcare, banking, etcetera – have a completely different view. This was a big eye-opener for me. I realized that we had a lot of combined brainpower to solve the issues in the cases we were given during our assignments. I'm also sure that if there's something at work I can't solve, I would have no problems finding a number of people who would be happy to let me pick their brain. As I ended up in a management position pretty quickly, I'm one of the young'uns at our company at 31. The back-up of my EMBA network gives me that bit of extra confidence at work. The leadership program has really helped with that, too.”
“The leadership program was particularly great, as it really focuses on who you are as a person. How do you act in certain situations? What are your preferred management styles? Which situations are you less comfortable dealing with? Since you and your peers mirror each other's ways of handling certain situations, you become very aware of your own thoughts and actions in those situations. I now understand better why I tend to struggle more in certain situations and why I'm able to solve other situations very quickly.”
“The fact that I have a better understanding of the impact of our product on the client's business case allows me to do my job better and ultimately deliver a better product.”
Thijs has seen improvement in a number of skills, which allows him to handle more at work. He is now also able to quickly identify the stakeholders he needs to ensure that his decisions are supported. “Because I'm able to approach a problem or issue that requires a decision from multiple angles, I already know who will have an opinion about it and wants to be heard. So what I do now - I talk to that person beforehand. Having a better understanding of the process has made it easier and faster to make decisions.” Impact on the client's business case “Externally, I've also become more involved with our clients' stakeholders. When I talk to a client, I also discuss the impact of our project on, say, their purchasing or maintenance department, or operations management. The fact that I have a better understanding of the impact of our project on the client's business case allows me to do my job better and ultimately deliver a better project.” Business-wise view on the world “Another thing I really liked and which is also one of my personal interests, is the fact that the EMBA explains how the world works, business-wise. How markets operate worldwide, for example, and what trade agreements mean for the prices of raw materials. It's just given me a better understanding of what's happening at a global level.”
Capstone project: the human aspects of change For his final capstone project, Thijs looked at the impact certain work processes would have on his organization and at the interventions needed to ensure that employees would actually adhere to these processes. “We are a technical company. Our solutions tend to be quite technical in nature, whereas the introduction of new work processes is very much a human process. Regardless of the schedule on paper, the introduction of processes such as these affects the way in which employees work.” Aligning work processes To highlight the challenges within his organization, Thijs takes a couple of steps back. “During our recent growth, we started to feel the need for more uniformity, but at the operational level, the various branches were still working in the same way they'd always done. In this scenario, how are you going to use a new work process to ensure that clients who are served by different branches still receive the same product from us? And how do you embed this in the organization without telling people: “The way you've always done your work is wrong” or “From now on we're doing it this way, because that's a better way”. In short, how are you going to align the work processes without antagonizing people?” Simon Sinek's classic 'Why' “The way I see it, the main solutions lie in explaining why it's important to align the work processes. Simon Sinek's classic 'Why'. Why are we doing this? Why do we think it's important? Why will the client benefit from this and why will we benefit?” Involved in change projects Since the capstone project, Thijs has noticed that his approach is well received. “I see my recommendations reflected in actions in our operational strategy, and I'm regularly involved in all kinds of change projects within the company as a hands-on expert in change management. So that's a great result. I've also noticed an increased focus on the human aspects of change within our company.”
“When I come across a certain problem, I always have three or four models up my sleeve that help me look at the problem from different angles.”
PERSONAL AND PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT
Thijs doesn't immediately know how to describe the personal transition he experienced during his course, but his colleagues have commented on his development. “They see that I now look at things in a different way and that I approach things differently. Personally, I have definitely noticed that the EMBA has given my career a boost. I have a better understanding of things, I quickly see the bigger picture, I'm less affected by certain things. When I come across a certain problem, I always have three or four models up my sleeve that help me look at the problem from different angles. I don't know if my colleagues are necessarily always thrilled about that, but it's just something I really enjoy doing.”
TIP FROM THIJS
“Are you considering a TIAS program? Just do it! It's easy to combine the program with your work and personal life as long as you stick to the schedule. If you drop off somewhere, make sure you get back on board immediately. Because once you start falling behind, you'll have to catch up later, while the group continues. It's just a great experience, solving problems with the same group of people. Those three days of lectures every month are a gift to yourself: they allow you to fully focus on yourself and your development.”
Becoming future-proof in leadership and strategic thinking It takes leadership and strategic thinking to build the right bridges and mobilize the organization. The Executive MBA (EMBA) will help you increase your agility in complex, changing environments – based on a sound understanding of business. Intensive attention to your personal development and leadership qualities allows you to master your new skills. This way, in situations that require both broad and in-depth knowledge, you’ll know which questions to ask and how to act. That’s how you make the difference. English-taught program is a 2-year course that lets you combine your work, study and private life.
LEARN AT TIAS
Do you want to create more impact on your organization and on society? With the flexible approach of TIAS, you create impact:
- Tailor your education and learning path to your learning needs
- Learn a lot in a short time through frequent interaction
- Individual attention is at the heart of the TIAS approach
- Learn at your own pace, both online and on-site
- Start whenever you want
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THE NEXT STEP
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TIAS is the business school of Tilburg University and Eindhoven University of Technology.
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